Are you an adult with High-Functioning Autism or Asperger's? Are you in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum? Are you struggling emotionally, socially, spiritually or otherwise? Then you've come to the right place. We are here to help you in any way we can. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile...

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Suicidal Thinking in People with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Every 17 minutes, a suicide is completed, and every 42 seconds someone is attempting suicide. Research reveals that 80-90% of those who commit suicide had a mental health issue. The rates of suicide are rising among teenagers and young adults with High-Functioning Autism (Asperger’s). 
Professionals working with autistic teenagers are suggesting that 50% of these adolescents have contemplated or attempted suicide, and they are at a 40-50% higher risk of completing suicide than their “typical” peers.

Suicide is a tragic reaction to stressful life situations. It may seem like there is no way to solve your problems, and that suicide is the only way to end the pain. Suicide warning signs include:
  • Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
  • Being severely anxious or agitated
  • Changing normal routine (e.g., eating or sleeping patterns)
  • Developing personality changes
  • Doing risky or self-destructive things (e.g., using drugs or driving recklessly)
  • Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
  • Getting affairs in order when there is no other logical explanation for doing this
  • Getting the means to take your own life (e.g., buying a gun or stockpiling pills)
  • Giving away belongings
  • Having mood swings (e.g., being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next)
  • Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
  • Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again
  • Talking about suicide (e.g., "I wish I were dead" or "I wish I had never been born")
  • Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

There's no substitute for professional help when it comes to treating suicidal thinking and preventing suicide. Don't try to manage suicidal thoughts or behavior entirely on your own. You need professional help and support to overcome the problems linked to suicidal thinking. Having said that, there are a few things that may reduce suicide risk and get you to start enjoying your life again:

1. Avoid drugs and alcohol, because they can worsen suicidal thoughts. They can also make you feel less inhibited, which means you're more likely to act on your thoughts.

2. Don't skip your medications is the doctor has prescribed some for you. If you stop, your suicidal feelings may come back. You could also experience withdrawal-like symptoms from abruptly stopping an antidepressant or other medication.

3. Employ the techniques called “thought-stopping.” The basis of this technique is that you consciously issue the command, “Stop!” when you experience repeated negative or distorted thoughts. You then replace the negative thought with something more positive and realistic. Interrupting bothersome thoughts with a “stop” command serves as a reminder and a distraction.

4. Get treatment for the underlying cause of your suicidal thinking. If you don't treat the underlying cause, your suicidal thoughts are likely to return.

5. If you are already seeing a therapist, don't skip therapy sessions or doctor's appointments, even if you don't want to go or don't feel like you need to.

6. If you have depression, learn about its causes and treatments.

7. It is easy for negative thoughts to take over and run as out of control as a runaway train. But, always remember that you are the one who has ultimate control of your thoughts. What are thoughts anyway? They are simply words or pictures that flash across your mind. When you begin to see thoughts that way (temporary flashes in your mind), it is very liberating. When you begin to control your thoughts instead of letting them control you, then you are the ruler of your own destiny. Take several times a day and simply observe your thoughts. When a negative one pops in your head, first acknowledge it, and let it know that it's even ok that it is in your head. Then let it know that you are the ruler of your thoughts, and gently let it fly away like a bird. As you practice this, it will get more natural and you will easily be able to remove these negative thoughts.

8. Physical activity and exercise have been shown to reduce depression symptoms (e.g., walking, jogging, swimming, gardening, etc.).

9. Remember that suicidal feelings are temporary. If you feel that life is not worth living anymore, remember that treatment can help you regain your perspective — and life will get better.

10. Seek help from a support group. It may be hard to talk about suicidal feelings, and your friends and family may not fully understand why you feel the way you do. Reach out anyway. You may want to get help from your place of worship, support groups or other community resources. Feeling connected and supported can help reduce suicide risk. There are a number of organizations available to help you cope with suicidal thinking and recognize that there are numerous options in your life other than suicide.

11. Use the technique call “distraction.” Just as the name implies, distraction is anything you do to temporarily take your attention off of a strong emotion (e.g., reading, journaling, playing video games, watching a movie, calling a friend, etc.). Oftentimes, focusing on a strong emotion can make it feel even stronger and more out of control. Thus, by temporarily distracting yourself, you may give the emotion some time to decrease in intensity, making it easier to manage.

12. Work with a therapist to learn what might trigger your suicidal feelings. Learn to spot the danger signs early, and decide what steps to take ahead of time. Consider involving family members or friends in watching for warning signs.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

Problems with Empathy: Tips for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

As people with ASD (high-functioning autism), we are often blamed for lacking empathy. Empathy, as you know, is the ability to step into the shoes of another person, aiming to understand his or her emotions and perspectives, and to use that understanding to guide our actions.

Empathy is NOT agreement, commiseration, endorsement, pity or sympathy. Instead, it is getting into another person's world and connecting with him or her – both emotionally and compassionately. 
We don't have to agree with other people or fully understand them to be able to empathize, and we don't even need to be able to relate to what they are experiencing specifically (although sometimes that can help). We just need to be present, connect with others where they are, and acknowledge what they are experiencing.

Is it possible for anyone on the autism spectrum to become more empathic given that “lack of displayed empathy” is one of the major traits of ASD?  I believe the answer is “yes.” But we must make the effort to “learn” this skill since it does not come naturally or instinctively to us. 
The best way to learn to show more empathy is to look at – and copy – the traits of those individuals who are already doing a good job in this area. Below is a list of such traits.

People who empathize – spontaneously and consistently – exhibit many of the following traits:
  1. adopt the Native American proverb, “Walk a mile in another man’s moccasins before you criticize him”
  2. ask others how they are feeling – and really listen to what they say
  3. ask themselves where empathy is missing, taking inventory of their life and relationships and noticing where empathy may be wanted, needed, or simply absent
  4. challenge their own preconceptions and prejudices by searching for what they share with people rather than what divides them
  5. develop an ambitious imagination
  6. develop the ability to be present to what’s really going on within—to the unique feelings and needs the other person is experiencing in that very moment
  7. embrace lifestyles and worldviews very different from their own
  8. empathize with people whose beliefs they don’t share or who may be “enemies” in some way
  9. find other people more interesting than themselves, but do not interrogate them
  10. have an insatiable curiosity about strangers
  11. listen hard to others and do all they can to grasp their emotional state and needs
  12. make themselves vulnerable, removing their masks and revealing their true feelings
  13. master the art of radical listening
  14. realize that empathy doesn’t just make you good—it’s good for you, too
  15. realize that they may have an apology to give, an acknowledgement to make, or simply an admission that they want to bring more compassion to a particular relationship
  16. talk to people outside their usual social circle
  17. tend to be an “interested inquirer”
  18. try to understand the world inside the head of the other person
  19. understand that all genuine education comes about through experience
  20. will talk to the person next to them on the bus or in the check-out line at the grocery, for example

Obviously, it would be an impossible task for you to dive-in and employ all 20 of the traits listed above. However, it would be within your reach to pick one or two of these traits, and make an agreement with yourself to implement them on a consistent basis. You can do it! I have faith in you!!! It just takes practice.

Resources for couples affected by ASD: 

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism


•    I do believe we learn how to communicate better ND understand others better but I don't see the above list of 20 being helpful. I don't think the fake until you make it will really be the road to better understand in this case especially since many of the trait listed involve a different method of internal hard wiring. The secret is to get to the same end result using your internal hard wiring. Case in point I have gone through a lot of assertiveness training, business related, collage courses and with private therapy. On the conscious level I understand what was being taught. I can see the difference in the behavior response discussed. But internally it just doesn't make sense to me. I can really wrap my mind around it enough to effectively us it. I end up feeling like I am being dishonest and manipultive. This results in be giving off the wrong body lqnguage nd tone. So what was to be an assertive action end up coming off as sarcatic or passive aggressive or other wrong message. Why because in the end i am still speaking a different language. It ike talking louder and putting on a heavy accent and assuming the other person will now understand you.

•    I'm kind of half way between your sentiment and the article. For me, I over-empathize. I find people overwhelming. But I can't seem to use that understanding of a person to effectively communicate and connect with them. I often see something in them they don't want to acknowledge. Combine that with being overly logical and blunt and knowing but not understanding social norms, and I can just come across as being very hurtful, when my goal is to help. I have a hard time navigating that. The biggest challenge for me, though, is turning all this into a solid connection with a person. It's like reading a book you just can't get into, not because you don't understand what's going on, it just doesn't grab you. That's how I feel with other people. Although I do have a strong desire to help people when concrete (usually physical) acion can be taken.

•    This question is for NT partners married to an Aspie spouse - what are the reason(s) to stay with them? Here is a bit about my wife and I and why I am asking. I ask this because I seem to "have" Aspergers, and I see the pain my wife goes through. As I continue to gain a deeper understanding (albeit a conceptual understanding) of what it means to be in a relationship as an NT, the sadder it seems. It appears to me that if the goal of the relationship is partnership it cannot be found with someone with Aspergers. We do not have children, we have no deeply functional reason to be together other than love and partnership. I very much like and appreciate this about our relationship, but she appears to be a better partner and seems like she is getting short changed in a sense. To an outside observer, I imagine that I appear like a good partner. I support her goals, I respect her in multiple ways, I encourage her to do things that make her happy, I don't care about social norms, I happen to make a substantial income relative to most people and therefore pay for everything so she doesn't have to work, happy to help out and do the chores and whatever else is helpful, I am loving towards out cats, people see us and consistently tell her "he loves you so much". Etc. Etc. But I don't know how to respond to her emotions (on multiple occasions, I have walked away from her while she was crying), I seem to really only understand what she is saying when it is laid out in an argumentative/logical format (and even then I rarely seem to feel what she is saying), I don't communicate well, I don't listen well, I am often swirling around in my own head (sometimes during serious conversations I will trace geometrical shapes in my head when we talk - and the more I try to stop it the stronger it goes). I love my wife - I care for her and I want her to be happy. However, after several years of trying to change, I see that she is now looking for happiness in changing her expectations of a partner. Perhaps this is the "appropriate" thing to do, but logically I cannot understand why. It seems the proposition is to spend a life with someone that cannot deliver emotional understanding and comfort and in exchange one receives...? I want her to be happy, and I would like for that to be with me, but I worry that I am holding her back from finding a person who can make her happy (or be alone, but not with someone who consistently disappoints her). Thank you for any insights you may be willing to share.

•    This is empathy. Empathy is the understanding of what another is going through. Expression of empathy is what I think a better term would be. I most certainly have empathy and can understand what others are going through. My problem is how to express it in a way that can convey that I understand rather than overtaking and making their emotions my own towards them. But this can also be an issue for our own emotions and how to appropriately express them in a NT world. As far as empathy within the relationship, as an aspie in a very good relationship with my partner and with kids, I have found communication even what either of us think is redundant to be key.

25 Challenges You May Experience When You Leave Home for College

Tips for Young Adults on the Autism Spectrum:

1. Colleges have vocabulary and rituals that will seem new and unique. Concepts like deans, provost, convocations may be new to you. What do you call your professors? Dr.? Ms.? Mr.? You need to ask. Some campus rituals will feel strange.

2. Family structure will change. Your mom and dad may experience freedom when you leave home, or they may feel a great sense of loss, or they may feel both! Your dad may find himself the only male among his wife and daughters. Your mom may find herself the only female among her husband and sons. The phone may be quieter than before. New space may become available. When you return home for visits, you may feel like everyone has gobbled-up your space and moved on.

3. Your mom and dad need to express concern and interest, and empower you to seek appropriate kinds of help when necessary, to make good choices, and to learn from the college experience. But, they can’t step in and do it for you. However, some of the situations that come up can be stressful and difficult for you. For your parents, there is a fine balance in taking a genuine interest and offering help – but not encouraging you to rely on them too much.

4. Roommates will probably have different lifestyles, values, and ways of doing things. Your roommate may be particular, messy, reliable, unreliable, assertive, helpful, noisy, confused or difficult to live with. You may find it challenging to live with a new person, or it may be easy and a friendship will emerge. Rather than calling home to complain about a roommate problem, try to work things out yourself first. There are Residence Assistants who have been trained to assist in this process. You may need to talk about switching roommates if the situation becomes intolerable (e.g., if he or she is abusive, a bully, a drug user, etc.).

5. Some professors may not be as exciting and interesting as you thought they would be. While some professors are captivating lecturers, some are not. Some lead discussion classes and expect you, the student, to do a good deal of the talking. This may challenge the reserved, self-absorbed student with Asperger’s or High-Functioning Autism.

6. You may call home often, or not so often. Understanding your parents’ expectations about the kind of contact that will be maintained is important. Have a discussion about what you need as a minimum and want as a maximum of contact. Also discuss ideal conditions (e.g., times of day and days of week that respect everyone’s sleep habits, study needs, work schedules, etc.).

7. You may have trouble with reading and writing assignments. The level of writing required may be higher and in greater quantity than what was expected of you while you were in high school. You may need extra tutoring in writing, grammar, spelling, etc. Some readings may be more complex and difficult than expected. Assignments may require several readings and much more time than you allot. Thus, you may experience some anxiety about your performance. This is normal and expected.

8. You WILL be homesick at times, missing your parents and siblings, friends, and pets. You will miss old routines and structures. This, too, is normal and expected.

9. You may notice that your peers dress differently than in high school. Some have body piercings and purple hair. As you explore your identity, you may look radically different to your parents during the first vacation or two home.

10. You may feel ambivalent about dependence versus independence. You may openly ask for parent support, or you may choose not tell your mom and dad important details. They need to ask you how you are doing without prying too much – while also being accessible and open.

11. You may become excited about whole new areas of study and may change your career goals and major plans. Your mom and dad (who thought your goals and dreams were set in stone) may be surprised – or even disappointed. Again, this is common.

12. You may choose to not come home for vacations, or may not be able to do so because of cost or distance, or you might be invited elsewhere. You may decide to join campus service trips like Habitat for Humanity. If your mom and dad are looking forward to home visits, you may have to adjust your expectations. Communication about expectations is the key.

13. You may really like their advisor, or may not. If you have an advisor you do not get along with, you will most likely hesitate to ask that advisor for help. Most advisors can work well with young adults on the autism spectrum, but occasionally personalities don’t mix well. Don’t worry, because you can change advisors. Communication is the key here, even if personalities don’t match.

14. You will be confronted with different people from a variety of backgrounds. There are cultural differences, racial differences, and differences in sexual orientation, religion, values, and lifestyle. It can feel overwhelming to start over with new people. It can be hard to make new friends. However, this experience also gives you a chance to develop a new identity. There will be feelings of acceptance as well as rejection. Coping with new ideas, new people, and the possibility of rejection takes energy.

15. You will be expected to maintain your own schedules and develop good study habits. There is no one around to force you to study, to go to class, or to get a good night’s sleep. You have to create a structure that works for you!

16. You will be leaving old friends behind. But, you can keep up with them through email and home visits. In some cases, you and your friends will go your separate ways. This may surprise and sadden you, especially if you have had the same friends since grade school.

17. The food is not like home cooking. You may gain weight during the first year eating too much fat, starch and junk food – or you may lose weight because the food tastes terrible. This is just another thing that is normal and expected.

18. The college may not live up to the expectations set by the brochures and admissions counselors. Rarely does an admissions pamphlet tell all about the ins and outs, and the limits and shortcomings of the college. So, be prepared for a bit of disappointment from time to time.

19. The work is going to be hard, and you may experience your first low grades. You may have done well in high school. Most high school courses are not as demanding as college. So, you will have to learn each professor’s expectations and style of grading.

20. There are so many choices that you can be overwhelmed and may not complete projects and tasks. There are so many clubs, organizations, activities, courses, lectures, sports practices, and concerns that it is sometimes hard to decide what to go to. Work can suffer if you are spread too thin. On the other hand, studies show that judicious active involvement can help you make better use of your time and increase the quality of your work. You may not get enough sleep or may get sick because you are committed to too many groups and/or projects. So remember, balance is the key!

21. There is a maze of things to figure out (e.g., which courses to take, who to get to know, where to go for this or that). A lot of energy goes into trying to make sense of the new environment. As a result, you may feel confused and bewildered from time to time. This is what? You guessed it: normal and expected.

22. There is some promiscuous behavior and some drug use on college campuses. You have to be mature, make responsible choices, and be aware that others may not engage in the most constructive behaviors. Sometimes your roommate may want to bring his or her drug-using friends into the room. Some of your peers may even talk like “everyone else is doing it.” Keep in mind that this is their perception rather than the reality.

23. There is the stress of making a good adjustment, because you believe the future depends upon your doing well. Should you change courses, direction, or major? How can you be sure? Did you make the right choice? Putting choices into a longer-term perspective is useful. There are many people on campus that can assist you in making decisions (e.g., professors, peers, and staff).

24. There may be troubled peers who want to rely on you excessively for support, care, or nurturance. They may want to borrow some of your stuff or some money. Some peers may be very emotionally distraught and needy. This can be demanding and take a lot of your time, energy, and other resources. Keep in mind that many people on the autism spectrum tend to be gullible and unintentionally let others take advantage of them. You need to know when to say, “No” …or “I can’t help you with that,” and then refer your fellow student to the counselor or some other form of assistance.

25. While many classes are small, you may feel overwhelmed by large classes. You may be the youngest person in the class or the least experienced in the subject matter. In your last year of high school, you may have been used to being the oldest and the brightest, but now college is a big shift for you. This is, again, normal and expected!

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

The Angry ASD Spouse: Tips for Husbands on the Autism Spectrum

Many adults with ASD [High-Functioning Autism], by self-admission, have an anger-management problem. Also, in my years of counseling couples affected by ASD (usually in the cases where the husband has autism and the wife does not), I have received literally hundreds of emails from neurotypical [NT] wives describing horrific outbursts and meltdowns exhibited by their husbands on the spectrum.

Anger is triggered by people, events, or circumstances that make us feel vulnerable in some way. However, anger is a secondary emotion. In other words, your anger distracts you from other emotions that you are feeling. You can also think of anger as a surface emotion. In other words, it is the emotion that people see, but the anger exhibited is really a cover-up for a primary emotion. 
Anxiety, depression, grief, guilt, helplessness, powerlessness, shame, uselessness, and worthlessness are all very common primary emotions that hide behind anger. These are also very common emotions found in people on the autism spectrum – especially anxiety and depression.

You lash out in anger to prevent others from becoming aware of these vulnerabilities. But, once your anger has run its course and you return to your rational state of mind, you are left to deal with the repercussions of whatever situation triggered your anger. In the world of the autistic, sometimes these repercussions are grim and life-changing (e.g., job loss, separation, divorce, etc.).

What’s really behind your anger? Let’s take a look:

1. Anger hides anxiety: Our bodies interpret anger as a threat to survival, and as a result, will release adrenalin and nor-adrenalin to help us cope. These hormones act as an analgesic. In effect, anger makes us feel better in the short-term – it numbs our emotional and physical discomfort. But, this is not a healthy long-term solution. We, as adults on the autism spectrum, should not allow ourselves to get addicted to this kind of painkiller. If we do, then outbursts of anger may become a way of life. And sad to say, for too many of us, it has already become a way of life!

2. Anger hides emotional vulnerability: Some people with ASD use anger as a way of distancing themselves from their spouse (partner). Perhaps we feel safer if our spouse is held at arm’s length. Maybe we find it hard to express our true personal needs and desires. Learning to relate positively to your spouse, to allow yourself to be vulnerable to her – and to trust her to respect your feelings – are key steps you can take to a healthier relationship.

3. Anger hides grief and depression: Some people on the spectrum respond to grief and/or depression by getting angry. This can be our way of coping with the pain we are feeling. We yell and lash-out verbally instead of seeking comfort, or instead of offering comfort if our anger is on behalf of someone else.

4. Anger hides hurt: Admitting that we feel hurt is too much for some of us. Better to explode in rage than to show we care or that we are upset by whatever has happened. Hurt hides behind anger when you feel unloved, rejected, or criticized (remember the high school days and all the teasing, harassment, and bullying?).  If we think our anger is hiding hurt, we should focus on learning to love and accept ourselves.

5. Anger hides low self-esteem: An guy on the autism spectrum who has been experiencing anger-control issues for many years may admit (to himself if not to others) that he sometimes struggles with self-esteem issues. He may have internal dialogues that revolve around themes such as, “Any minute now, somebody will see that I’m useless/stupid/a complete fraud/not good enough/etc.” These internal dialogues can occur even in someone who leads an outwardly successful life. Sometimes those dialogues are what drives the person to achieve; anger for him is an indication of the stress he experiences as a result of the gap between his internal and external life.

6. Anger hides powerlessness: If we go through life feeling weak, hopeless, helpless, overlooked or undervalued, anger often hides these feelings of powerlessness.

7. Anger hides fear: The most common feeling that hides behind anger is fear. But, unless we are developing a habit of “mindfulness” (i.e., making ourselves aware of our emotions as they arise), it can be difficult to identify the emotions lurking beneath our anger. Our best indication of what those emotions may be is to consider how we feel about ourselves at the times when we are not feeling angry.

We should find ways to ask for what we want (or don’t want) instead of acting-out in anger and rage. Some of us have sought assertiveness training and/or worked with a counselor or psychotherapist to help us learn to appreciate our own worth and manage our anger. Maybe you should consider following our lead.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA


•    I hide most of my anger within usually until i am alone then I explode like a nuke , this article helps me a lot Thanks.
•    I'm the spouse that's experienced many angry outbursts and other demonstrations of my husbands anger. I think this article does a great job illustrating the effects of Anger on the Person who's angry, their marriage, & their family life. Very insightful ~ I've already referred friends & family to this page. Emotional Safety is critical to healing.
•    Emotions are irrational and therefore illogical. I have no need for emotions
•    Sure emotions can be secondary, and the seven points are relevant. However, it seems a bit sought to say that "anger is a secondary emotion" and a "surface emotion", whereas "anxiety is a primary emotion".  Anger is the "Fight" option of the "Fight/Flight" response; the brain's reflective reaction to perceived threatening situations. Anxiety is the "Flight" option. There are sure situations where anger covers up different emotions eg. anxiety, but there are also likely situations where other emotions cover anger, eg anxiety where the underlying emotion is anger.  That is highly likely the case, since anger is one of the least socially acceptable emotions, and people tend to deny/cover unacceptable emotions when they are able to.
•    Once I was diagnosed, I made the decision to change direction in business (no more deadlines — way too stressful) and to refuse to accept stress from anyone else. That was 15 years ago and I rarely experience anger, anxiety or other forms of stress. As an added benefit, it's helped me to become a very effective negotiator. :)
•    I have learned to express myself and then I get angry when the person isn't understanding or taking what I say serious.

Post your comment below…

Conversation Starters: Advice from a Guy with Asperger’s

Hi everyone. My name is Todd. Those of us with Asperger’s (or high-functioning autism) typically dislike small talk and chit chat. But I’ve discovered over the years that if I don’t engage in that type of conversation (at least for a short time), I end up talking endlessly about what interests me – ONLY!

I say “only” because I have been known to put people to sleep with my rambling on and on about, in my case, current events. Yes, I’m a news junky, but that doesn’t mean everyone else is (which is what I used to think). However, when I do run into another news junky, we have a lot to talk about (and I have to remind myself to leave some space in the conversation for the other person to speak).

In any event, for those of you on the autism spectrum that get accused of singe-topic verbal diarrhea, here are 5 ideas that have worked for me that may help you to broaden your conversational horizons:

1. First of all, I will ask open-ended questions a lot. I find that most people love to talk about themselves. An open question involves an explanation for an answer rather than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no'. For example, "What sort of books do you like?" versus "Do you like books?" Open questions tend to begin with how, what, when, where, who, and why.

2. I also combine general remarks with open-ended questions. Since either one of these can be awkward on its own, I combine them for maximum effect. For example, at a recent seminar I attended on “How to Invest in Stocks,” I said to the gentleman sitting next to me, "Fantastic turnout! Which of the lecturers is your favorite so far?" This was the beginning of a very pleasant discussion on a topic of interest for the both of us.

3. As I said earlier, people like to talk about themselves. They also like to talk about their pets. Personally, I’m a cat lover (I have two rats as well, in their cage of course). Pets are often common ground with people you have nothing else in common with. Since I have pets, it's easy to relate to other animal lovers whether they prefer reptiles, dogs, horses, cats, or birds. While talking about my pets can be annoying to some people, asking them about their pets is a great way to get them to open up and start talking.

4. I also try to keep my questions non-invasive. I attempt to avoid inquiring about topics they may not want to discuss. For example, some people can be very uncomfortable discussing issues that tap in to their insecurities, such as weight loss, lack of having a degree, lack of having a romantic partner, and so on.

5. Lastly, I’ve discovered that my comfort level plays a big role in how others warm up to me. Starting a conversation is a relatively simple thing to do, but it’s more difficult to keep the conversation going. In times past, what was holding me back was that I was uncomfortable about going through with it. I could start it, but couldn’t finish it. I felt shy and insecure and thought I had nothing interesting to say and that I would be bothering the other person. If this is the case with you, know that it's important to work on increasing your comfort level. And the only way to accomplish this is with practice – lots of practice! Before long, you’ll be an expert in chit chat.

Best of luck!

Todd G.

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

When Your Man with ASD is a Reluctant Talker: Tips for NT Women

"My Asperger’s partner of 16 years doesn't talk to me much anymore (except for one syllable words or short sentences). Every time I broach this subject, he won't open up.  He won't even talk to me to help make things better.  I've even stooped to picking fights just to get a response from him.  Of course, this only makes things worse.  I know that he is unhappy in the relationship. What can or should I do?”

Here are some ideas regarding how to get your Asperger’s partner to open up and be more communicative:

1. Ask your partner for a specific, short commitment of time. Most reluctant talkers can handle a conversation if they know it won't last forever. Let your man set the time limit. You may find that it increases as he grows more comfortable.

2. Ask your partner what would make him feel less overwhelmed when it comes to talking openly. For example, would it help if you set aside a regular time for talking, or if you waited until he decompressed after work?

3. Don’t accept the silent treatment! If this happens, simply say something like, “Here in a few minutes, I want to get your opinion and thoughts on _____.” Be specific with the topic – and stay with ONLY one topic. Believe me when I tell you that Asperger’s men can get easily overwhelmed and can have a difficult time tracking multiple topics. After the conversation, say something like, “I really appreciate you listening to me. It makes me love you more every time you do it.”

4. Don’t assume that your man’s silence is designed to punish you in some way. Sometimes, he is dealing with his own issues and he doesn't want to worry you or doesn't want for you to think less of him.  Too many ladies assume that the man’s lack of communication is a direct reaction to them, but this isn't always the case.  Sometimes, his upbringing contributes to his communication style, or he's just struggling to deal with something alone. And of course, his disorder is a major factor as well.

5. Don't over-analyze your partner. You may think you know what's behind his unwillingness to talk, but you can't read his mind.

6. Don't start by trying to communicate about problems in the relationship. Understandably, this is a woman’s first inclination.  She sees that the relationship is in trouble, so she figures the best thing to do is just to start talking.  The problem is that, if you have a man who is in the habit of clamming up, you're probably only going to get more of the same.

7. Learn about how Asperger’s affects the person’s communication skills.

8. Learn each other's personality type, and how it shapes communication style. Make the process a discovery of your uniqueness, not an opportunity to stereotype each other.

9. Learn to not take things too personally.

10. Make sure your partner knows that you want to be there for him – and this is why talking to one another is so important.

11. Read about the differences between males and females, especially as they relate to communication.

12. Start gradually with “small talk.” It's tempting to get discouraged and think along these lines: “If he's not going to talk to me, then why should I go out of my way and put myself out there when all I'm going to be met with is the silent treatment?" This is why it helps to start small.  Start a conversation about something that he is interested in. Even if you're only talking about the news or something that the two of you just participated in, it's crucial to get the communication going on a regular basis.

13. Talk about your emotions in a non-accusatory, non-blaming way.

14. The tone with which you ask your partner to communicate with you is tremendously important. When ladies start to see a problem in their relationship, they go into "fix it" mode. Your partner is well aware of this, and as a defense mechanism, he may clam up because he doesn't want one response to lead to more questions or investigation.  He also may worry that you're going to try to “fix” him, or point out where he is wrong.

15. Timing of the communication is everything! Gently approach your partner and ask if it is a good time to talk about something important.

AS one NT wife stated, "I have a husband that refuses to communicate. I talk. I think he is listening but then my words are like smoke... like it was never there. I am learning to title my talks, strong start and limit content. Works for what I need him to remember. Functional."

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA

Good New Year's Resolutions for People with Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

New Year’s resolutions are the perfect opportunity for all those who have failed to start making the changes that they said they would make next week or next month. Now is your chance to sit down and prepare a list of important lifestyle changes you want to make. I've decided to give you a bit of help by listing some important "changes" below – because since the majority of people fail to stick to their resolution, you’ll need all the help you can get.

1. Attend church
2. Be less argumentative
3. Be more of a team player
4. Become a smart grocery shopper (lists and pantry inventory before you go)
5. Buy less coffee from Starbucks
6. Call people more than text
7. Cook dinner more often
8. Cut someone out of your life who isn't good for you
9. Do one new thing every single week -- it doesn’t have to be major
10. Do something for charity
11. Donate unworn clothing to people who could use it
12. Drink less alcohol
13. Eat less chocolate
14. Get better at social networking
15. Get out of your comfort zone and explore more
16. Get those piles of photos into scrapbooks
17. Give more away—even if it’s something you want for yourself
18. Go on a blind date
19. Go travelling
20. Have a face-to-face with your boss to find out where you stand
21. Learn how to cook more of your favorite foods—no more take-out!
22. Learn how to make basic, easy things you normally buy
23. Leave work on time more often
24. Less time on Facebook
25. Less TV time
26. Live more minimalistically
27. Lose weight
28. Make a meal for any friend or neighbor when they’re sick or stuck at home
29. Make an effort to respond to emails quickly so they don’t fall through the cracks
30. Make the iPad the exception, not the habit, for nighttime entertainment
31. Meditate for five minutes every day
32. Meet online contacts in real life
33. Opt for tea instead of coffee
34. Opt for the stairs a few times every week
35. Organize photos
36. Plan at least one weekend day-trip every month
37. Plan to visit extended family regularly
38. Post more unfiltered and realistic images on your social feeds
39. Practice a musical instrument more (or take up a new one)
40. Quit smoking
41. Read for pleasure
42. Redecorate
43. Resolve to work ahead
44. Run a few miles every day
45. Save more money
46. Say “no” sometimes
47. Sell old unwanted stuff on eBay
48. Shut off Netflix by PM
49. Smile to at least one person every day
50. Spend more time with family
51. Spend one-on-one quality time with your friends every single week
52. Start your own business
53. Stop beating yourself up over mistakes -- learn from them, and move on
54. Stop contacting/going back to an ex-partner
55. Stop drinking soda
56. Stop pressing “snooze”
57. Stop using your smartphone as a crutch
58. Strive to stand up for yourself more often
59. Tackle three DIY projects you’ve pinned in the last three months
60. Take up a new hobby
61. Tell someone you have feelings for them
62. Text people less
63. Totally revamp your wardrobe
64. Try a new hairstyle
65. Try extreme sports
66. Try to save one of your relationships
67. Try your best to stay in the moment
68. Wake up early enough to have a leisurely breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee
69. Walk a little slower and take in your surroundings
70. Watch less reality TV

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

==> Skype Counseling for Struggling Couples Affected by Asperger's and HFA

Comments from Women Who Are in Relationships with Men on the Autism Spectrum

We asked a group of women who are members of our Facebook page Neurodiverse Relationships: Support for Couples Affected by ASD the following question:

“For those of you who are in (or where in) a relationship (marriage or otherwise) with someone on the autism spectrum, what was your greatest challenge (or the biggest problem you had to endure)?”

Here are their responses:
  • Anonymous said…  Hard to communicate with, doesn't like to be social, doesn't like change, never compliments me. He shows his love by actions and not words but has changed a lot since we were married 35 yrs ago. Our son has Aspergers and I have learned through his therapy and progress that my husband is on the spectrum. He thinks I can read his mind because it seems so painful for him to communicate. Very passive-aggressive.
  • Anonymous said…  his "special interest" is a lifelong addiction that he wont recognize as such but also wont spend time doing anything else to the exclusion of helping around the house or interacting with his children. He will go to work but as soon as he gets home he shuts down, and focuses on his interest. If I ask him to do anything that doesn't involve his "special interest" he gets very irritable and tries to sabotage whatever else is going on a) his way of trying to manipulate so that he isn't called on again, b) so he can get back to his addiction.
  • Anonymous said…  Hostility towards me and thinking everything I say is having a go at him when it isnt
  • Anonymous said…  I didn't know. They didn't know. I got close to a diagnosis of myself with two books. NOBODY NOWHERE and SOMEBODY SOMEWHERE but got side swiped by movie Mr Jones. I was more like that. I still dont know about myself. The psychiatrist says you cant find out at 65 .... I differ but I dont care anymore. I take the drugs and try not to die of light and noise and travelling and boxes and suitcases and loneliness. My marriage ended. My child tried so hard to be normal I thought she was fine. Now I am just sad because I didnt know. My child figured it out watching Parenthood. She's in therapy and doing well. I think.
  • Anonymous said…  I love social events but it is like Chinese water torture to him.
  • Anonymous said…  Lack of connection.
  • Anonymous said…  Lack of empathy, lack of affection , lack of communication, lack of support through very difficult times. Always always always feeling lonely in my marriage.
  • Anonymous said…  Missing the physical and articulate expressions of simple affection and of passionate curiosity of ones object of desire. It is like reading music when you know what the orchestra sounds like and seeing the branches move without the sound of the breeze.
  • Anonymous said…  Poor communication, defensiveness, rigid thinking and lack of empathy.
  • Anonymous said…  Socializing with others as a couple. He often offends others because they don't know him.
  • Anonymous said… Aspie....Altered reality. Them not being responsible, affectionate, honest, paying bills on time, or fully understanding the consequences of their actions etc.
  • Anonymous said… Communication.
  • Anonymous said… Coping with the constant and repetitive verbal stimming.
  • Anonymous said… Everything is a challenge! It's like walking on eggshells. What is the helpful solution?
  • Anonymous said… His inability to adapt to change, twisted perceptions, selfishness, refusal to communicate, & not caring about my needs
  • Anonymous said… Lack of emotional support during crisis. Inability to solve problems.
  • Anonymous said… My greatest challenge was understanding that my paradigm of what our future looked like could not exist. I had to modify my desires to meet with his abilities. It has caused amazing growth in him and our marriage. No it doesn't look like anyone else's, but it sure works for us!
  • Anonymous said… my hubby is honest but everything else is spot on.
  • Anonymous said… Pretty much yes to everything in the comments list :(
  • Anonymous said… The defensiveness, the mind blindness (wrong conclusion jumping), saying one thing and doing another
  • Anonymous said… All of above !!  Hard work and draining. Emotionally exhausted 
  • Anonymous said... If you understand that you have aspergers and you understand how that impacts you and your partner and are willing to work toward the same goal, you will not be lonely. Depending on your partner, they may need to build other relationships and support, but you certainly have the ability to be happy.
  • Anonymous said... I am married to a man with Asperger's and my biggest challenge was learning not to read into things and take certain things personally. I had to realize if he can't read non verbal social cues, how can he give them? Instead of assuming, I just ask him. When I stop and look at what he DOES do for me vs. what he would do for anyone else, I can see how deeply he loves me. With that understanding, he has been able to go beyond his challenges and be a wonderful, loving husband.

Resources for Neurodiverse Couples:

==> Online Group Therapy for Men with ASD

==> Online Group Therapy for NT Wives

==> Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples 

==> One-on-One Counseling for Struggling Individuals & Couples Affected by Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism  

==> Online Group Therapy for Couples and Individuals Affected by Autism Spectrum Disorder

 ==> Cassandra Syndrome Recovery for NT Wives

How to Get Anything You Want Out of Life: Tips for Adults on the Autism Spectrum

When you begin to implement a "strengths-based focus" in your day-to-day living (click here to learn more about a strengths-based focus), you can achieve anything you want. Let me repeat this: anything is possible, and I mean anything, with a strengths-based focus. 
Do you want to have ever-present peace and joy in your life on a daily basis? How about the job of your dreams? What kind of a romantic relationship do you want? How much money do you want to make? Do you want to be outgoing rather than shy? Would you like to be a half-inch taller or 30 pounds lighter? How about becoming an expert in the field of your choice? You name it, focus on it, and you'll get it. 

You may be thinking at this point that "this focus stuff is just a bunch of hype." But you already have evidence that this concept works, but probably in reverse. In other words, your focus may have been predominantly on the negative, and the more you focused on that negative thing, whatever it was, the more pessimistic you became. 

To use a concrete example from one of my Asperger's clients, Roger (age 31 at the time) always viewed himself as one of the most socially inept individuals out there. He knew he wasn't very good at the give-and-take of a normal conversation. He tended to dominate most conversations by rambling on and on about his favorite topic of interest, which was World War II history. 
After about five minutes into his monologue, Roger would notice that most of his listeners became disinterested and even annoyed. Then Roger would think to himself, "Either nobody cares about history anymore, or I am the most boring person on the planet." His focus was on how boring he was, which unfortunately resulted in the vast majority of people finding him to be very dull and monotonous. What he focused on became his reality.

Fortunately, the focus concept can work the other way around. I've seen clients go from being unemployed and under-employed to making well over $75,000 a year. I've seen clients who had never been in a relationship before find the person of their dreams, get married, buy their own home, and have children. 
I've had clients in their 40s and 50s who were grossly overweight with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and numerous other physical ailments get their health back to the point where they were in better shape than most people in their 20s. I even had one client who went from being the most shy, reserved person I knew at the time to performing standup comedy at one of the prominent comedy clubs here in Indianapolis. These success stories occurred not because I waved a magic wand over my clients, but because they understood the importance of a strengths-based focus and employed it in their lives on a daily basis.

One of the first things I do in therapy is to have my client create his or her own unique "strengths-based focus" vision board. We call it a "focus board," and this will be your first assignment as one of my website visitors. As an adult on the spectrum, you are probably well aware of the fact that people with Asperger's syndrome and High-Functioning Autism tend to be very visual. That is, they learn best by seeing rather than hearing. So as part of your first assignment, go to your local office supply store and purchase a bulletin board and a package of pushpins. 
You will want to hang this board on a wall in whatever room of your house that you occupy the most. On this board, you will be placing pictures that you have cut out from magazines or any other sources, or pictures that you've taken yourself with a camera. These pictures are going to represent your current strengths as well as strengths that you may not possess yet, but desire to at some point in the near future. So in this way, you will be focusing on both current strengths and future strengths.

Here's an example to illustrate: Let's say you're very good at playing a particular musical instrument, perhaps the piano. So find a picture of a piano in a magazine, cut it out and tack it on your focus board. This is a current strength that you possess. Let's also say that you are not in a relationship currently, but would very much enjoy having a love interest. 
So for example, if you are a heterosexual male looking for a girlfriend, find a picture of a pretty girl, cut it out and tack it your focus board. Now let's also say that you spend a good part of your evening at home on the computer. So a good spot for your focus board might be on the wall directly above your computer screen so that you can see it every day.

Now before you hang the bulletin board and cut pictures out of magazines, take some time later today to (a) list at least five things that you are currently good at doing and (b) at least five things that you would like to be able to do someday. When you have completed this list, then you can begin pinning pictures to your focus board. 
Then every day from this point forward, spent a few minutes reviewing the board, visualizing yourself engaged in your current strengths as well as the ones you want to develop. To use the example above, spend a minute or two visualizing yourself playing one of your favorite piano pieces, and then spend another minute or two fantasizing about your first date with a pretty young lady.

When you visualize, be sure to do so in a very detailed fashion. For example, when you see yourself on that first date, what are the two of you doing exactly? Are you having dinner in a nice restaurant? If so, what are you wearing? What is she wearing? How does her perfume smell? What do you like most about this person ...her hair ...her laugh ...her voice? What are the two of you discussing? In other words, you want to play a movie in your head that illustrates exactly how you want this first date to go.

Everything is fair game for your focus board -- as long as it has to do with building on current strengths and cultivating new ones. It should go without saying that you do not want to include "flaws to be fixed" on your board. So you will need to put a positive spin on some things. For example, if you are rather shy, but want to be more outgoing, you are not technically going to "fix" shyness, rather you are going to "foster the development of a more  friendly, conversational trait in yourself." Put it in the positive  (e.g., "I want to _____ instead of "I don't want to _____"). 

Make sense? Good luck!

Mark Hutten, M.A.

== Living With Aspergers: Help for Couples

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